She limns the interior landscape of woman. The details of her thoughts. Her fears. Her desires and pain.
One by one, 26 nameless women unveil their secrets, their shame, and their kidnapped dreams.
Women live inside/outside a beautiful/sad wilderness of a world. They stand at a window, behind a locked door, and on the edge of a cliff, pondering and observing. Women lie in bed and drive to work, mourning loss and innocence. They sit alone in a kitchen and among strangers in a café, eating and drinking. They walk city streets, turn corners, and cross intersections, seething impressions and lamentations to thicken the purple cling of soul.
She is a collaborative project with nine women artists who painted, collaged, and photographed prosepoems commissioned as individual pieces. Their images reveal the interior landscape of woman via the markings of lines, brushstrokes, and a palette of earthbound colors that divulge the atmospheric poetics of She. The artists include Lori DeMarre, Pamela Farrington, Rona Frances, Ellen Lane, Linda M. Paris, Flora Ramírez-Bustamante, Barbara W. Solomon, M. Anne Sweet, and Fumi Watanabe.
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BODY WITHOUT BONES
The first time she saw her it was as if she were wearing nothing, no clothes, only markings on her face that reminded her of seamless stitches her mother sewed with thread and needle while she sat in her cushioned chair to keep at a distance from her father. The first time she saw her, she sat in the corner of the café, her hands between her thighs, dreaming an exotic drink to quench her thirst, wishing she were a man, not a woman. She wanted to spill everything she loved, romantic love found in lost legends, in damp cave walls in the pressed velvet folds of a rose unplucked by the ravenous hands of men, in the shallows of the ocean at low tide, the remains of the dead on the dry sandy beach. She was a woman who longed for a body without bones, a jellyfish swimming and floating a multitude of shapes found in a favorite painting hanging on a dusted wall by the hands of a servant bound to the mystery and splendors of art—love and blood spilled and skimmed on the surface of any empty white poor space, faithful to the scent of a peach on a summer day.
During their first conversation she was wearing a white shirt, clean and starched. Sweat drizzled from her underarms and moist pools inside her, soiled her ironed shirt as they sat together under the sun. She watched the hummingbird suck nectar from fuchsias and her first instinct was to flee from her, to leave a woman sitting alone. They spoke empty words. Then she said, “Your love and your grace are plenty for me.”
The first time she kissed her she felt sadness in the pit of her throat, a pang of regret she had once felt as a child in a room full of aged women and men who looked at her and wanted her to be something she would never become. After the kiss, the moon fell and the earth cracked in two and the whole of her, from her toes to the crown of her head, was sucked in the bowels of their hell.
Their first fight happened when she walked out and stayed away for three nights. The second fight happened when she asked her to stay forever in her arms and she refused. The clock on the wall listened to the stone coldness between them. The punctuation of her “No, I cannot” implanted on the wall left an eerie moment of doom.
The last time they made love together she felt the secrecy of the excitement, the sharer of secrets, two women carried in the drawers of their hearts, the face of another and the imprint of flesh on skin, the mute affection under white sheets in a closed and locked room, the odor of salt and the sound of sorrowful precipitation, a tear at the end of lovemaking—making love neither one made to the other. The world outside their window continued on and on and she said, “Everything in nature is perfect.”
The last time she lied to her she suspected it was over. The time had come to cut the chain that bound them together in this secret union of freedom. She inhaled her peach scent and she walked out of the room, neither young nor old, she strolled like a woman walking to her tombstone. But it was summer and the pale orange of her heart turned sienna as she walked out the door and gulped the urban air.
The last time she saw her she was with an immense mirror. Her eyes preened only herself and her reflection expanded and imploded with a quality found in literature, a somber and intense longing of wishing to be somewhere else. The end clung to her skin like moist dew to the green of a leaf, the ground below swelling and pulling for the composition of a water-tear to fall.
Body without Bones image by: Pamela Farrington
“I try to make sense of someone else’s vision. I put a visual language to an idea or a dream or some epiphany that happened in the middle of the night.”
Read “New Autobiography” an excerpt from She at Otoliths:
She is a kaleidoscope of interior life—prosepoems both cutting and lyrical that fit together like bits of colored glass. Geri Gale brings an edgy and utterly unique voice to American poetics.
—Priscilla Long, poet and author of The Writer’s Portable Mentor:
A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life